The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Archive for August 5th, 2017

Extraordinary Form: Second Sunday of Lent: Commentaries and Resources on the Readings (Dominica II in Quadragesima)

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 5, 2017

Dominica II in Quadragesima


COMMENTARIES ON THE EPISTLE: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-7.


Sermons and Homilies:

Sermon and Homily Notes: for sermon/homily ideas, points for meditation or further study.

  • Heaven.  Based upon Matt 17:7.

DOGMATICS AND CATECHESIS: Besides preaching on the transfiguration it was also common to preach on the transforming effects of Holy Communion (Eucharist).

  • RELATING TO THE EPISTLE: 1 Thess 4:1-7. Verses 3-8 of this passage have been and can be variously interpreted as the footnote to 4:3-8 in the NABRE makes clear. Some (Aquinas’ commentary) interpret part of the passage as concerned with greed (e.g., the business practices mentioned by the NABRE footnote). Below I’ve included resources for both adultery (9th commandment) and theft (7th commandment). In addition, I’ve included some resources on the sacrament of marriage.

Catechism of the Council of Trent on the 7th Commandment.

Catechism of the Council of Trent on the 9th & 10th commandments. Starts near middle of page. It should be kept in mind that commandments 9 & 10 are more properly treated of next week.

Manual of Catholic Theology on Matrimony.

J.S Hunter’s Outlines of Dogmatic Theology on Matrimony.

The Sacraments: A dogmatic Treatise on Matrimony.

Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma on Holy Matrimony.

God the Teacher of Mankind on Matrimony.

Handbook of Moral Theology on Marriage.

  • RELATING TO THE GOSPEL: Matt 17:1-9.

J.S. Hunter’s Outlines of Dogmatic Theology on the Transfiguration. Brief. .

Aquinas’ Summa Theologia on the Transfiguration.

Catechism of the Council of Trent on the Effects of Holy Communion. This was a common theme for preaching in relation to the transfiguration. The source used here contains the catechism’s teaching followed by two short sermons on the subject.

The Sacraments: A Dogmatic Treatise. Pages 218-234. On the effect of the Eucharist.

Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma on the Effects of the Eucharist.



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Extraordinary Form: Commentaries for the First Sunday of Lent (Dominica I in Quadragesima)

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 5, 2017

Dominica I in Quadragesima


Today’s Roman Missal. Latin and English side by side. Make sure you have the correct date set.

Today’s Roman Breviary. Latin and English side by side. Make sure you have the correct date set.

Devout Instructions on the Epistle and Gospel.

COMMENTARIES ON THE LESSON: 2 Corinthians 6:1-10.

Cornelius a Lapide on 2 Cor 6:1-10.

Bernardin de Piconio on 2 Cor 6:1-10.


Cornelius a Lapide on Matt 4:1-11.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matt 4:1-11.

Juan de Maldonado on Matt 4:1-11.

Pope St Gregory the Great’s Homily on the Gospel.

On The Necessity and Utility of Fasting. Online book

Jesus Fasts and Overcomes Satan. Online book.

The Assaults of Satan and the means of rendering them ineffectual. Online book.

What Weapons We Must Use to Overcome Satan. Online Book

The Duty and Value of Fasting. Online book.

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Sexagesima Sunday: Commentaries and Resources on the Mass Readings

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 5, 2017

Dominica in Sexagesima ~ II. classis


Daily Roman Missal. Be sure correct date is set.

Roman Breviary. Be sure correct date is set.

Goffine’s Devout Instructions on the Epistle and Gospel. Readings and prayers from the Mass of the day, with brief instructions on the readings.

COMMENTARIES ON THE LESSON: 2 Corinthians 11:19-12:9.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 2 Cor 11:19-12:9.

Father de Piconio’s Commentary on 2 Cor 11:19-12:9.

Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Cor 11:19-12:9.


Bishop Knecht’s Practical Commentary on Luke 8:4-15.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on Luke 8:4-15.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 8:4-15.

Link fixed. Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 8:4-15.


Doctrinal Instructions on the Angels. Chapter from an online book. It was common to give instructions on the angels for this Sunday inasmuch as an angel of Satan was mentioned in the first reading (2 Cor 12:7), and Satan is mentioned in the Gospel text (Luke 8:12).

The Nature of Angels. Chapter from an online book.

Angels in the World. Chapter from an online book.

Moral Instruction on Fasting and Prayer. From the Catechism of the Council of Trent. On this Sunday it was common to give instruction on fasting and prayer in preparation for the coming of Lent.


Homily on the Epistle. Prefaced by reading.

In What the Apostle Glories. Homily on the epistle. Prefaced by the reading.

Pope St Gregory the Great’s Homily on the Gospel.

Why the Word of God Has So Little Effect at the Present Time. Homily on the Gospel. Prefaced by the reading (starts near bottom of the page).

The Reading of the Bible. Homily on the gospel.

The Ceremonies at the Preaching of the Word of God. Homily on the gospel.

The Thorns are a Symbol of the Riches and Pleasures of  This Life. Homily on the gospel.

Why the Word of God With Many Christians Yields No Fruit. Homily on the gospel.

What We Must Do So That the Word of God Which Is Preached To Us May Produce Fruit. Homily on the gospel.

The Poor Soil Onto Which the Word of God Generally Falls. Homily on the gospel.

The Word of God. Homily on the gospel.

On the Necessity of Hearing the Word of God in a Sermon. Homily  on the gospel. Scroll down to bottom of page to find the start of the homily.

Our Wisdom. Homily on the gospel.

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Father de Piconio’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 11:19-12:9

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 5, 2017

2 Cor 11:19. For you willingly bear with fools, being wise yourselves.
2 Cor 11:20. You bear it, if one reduces you to slavery, if one devours you, if one takes presents from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you in the face.
2 Cor 11:21. I speak to your dishonour, as if we were weak in this respect. What any dares (I speak in folly), I also dare.

I do not deny your wisdom; but it is certain that you do submit, without remonstrance, to the proud and arrogant self-assertion of others, far worse than anything you have had, or will have, to put up with from me; and indeed to absolute outrage and insult at their hands. You allow them to sell you into slavery, probably for money advanced; to seize and appropriate your goods; to exact heavy contributions from you under the name of gifts; to treat you as inferiors ; sometimes to strike you in the face. These are unquestionably allusions to incidents, which the Apostle knew to have occurred at Corinth, in the conduct of the heretical teachers or their influential supporters and allies. Some writers think that the expression, strike you in the face, is metaphorical; but there is no difficulty in supposing that it may, in some case or cases, have occurred literally. Verse 21, Saint Chrysostom says, is obscure, and apparently refers to some occurrence of a still more serious nature, which the writer does not choose to particularise more exactly. Whatever it was, it did not redound to the honour of the Corinthian Christians. And because I do not behave in the same way, you put it down, or are told to put it down, to weakness or cowardice on my part. I must protests foolish as the remark may sound, that I am as bold as others, in cases where boldness is required, or would be honourable and right. Of the truth of this statement he proceeds to give ample proof in the following verses.

It is, however, observed by Cornelius a Lapide, from Lalmeron, that what the Apostle here complains of, is the custom of the world, and has been so in all ages, and will be to the end of time. The servants of God are resisted and defied. On the smallest provocation, or appearance of provocation, men will murmur against them, cry out against them, complain of their measured and moderate severity, reject the very idea or appearance of ecclesiastical discipline; while at the same time they will exhibit the most abject and servile submission to teachers of heresy, give them full license, submit to whatever exactions they lay upon them; as the people of Israel, rejecting the modest and gentle government of the Prophet Samuel, preferred the yoke of a haughty and tyrannical king (see 1 Sam 8). And an ecclesiastical superior, who attends to, and discharges faithfully, the duties of his office, if he finds himself despised and looked down upon on that account by his own flock, may comfort himself by the example of the Apostle Saint Paul, to whom the Corinthian Christians preferred the false apostles of their day, although these last tyrannised over
them, robbed and insulted them, and crushed them under the weight of worldly influence and power. Another, who neglected the duties of his office, and the salvation of his flock, might very possibly find himself spoken of with honour, and valued and respected by the selfish and the worldly. If so, he should bestow a thought on these
false teachers of the Corinthians, and consider whether, in partaking their worldly honour, he may not also be
partaker of their guilt. At any rate, he cannot reasonably congratulate himself upon distinction at the hands of the world, which he shares with the ministers of Satan.

2 Cor 11:22. They are Hebrews, and I; they are Israelites, and I; they are the seed of Abraham, and I.

It appears from this verse that his opponents were Jews, or Judaizers. They may, however, possibly have sought to introduce, under the guise of Judaism, heresies, which were of foreign origin. The term Hebrews included originally all the descendants of the patriarch Heber, who lived at the time of the dispersion (Genesis 11:15). I am a Hebrew, and speak the Hebrew language. The Israelites, God’s chosen people, were a branch of the Hebrew race. The seed of Abraham, not converts or proselytes.

2 Cor 11:23. They are ministers of Christ, I speak as one not quite wise; I am more; in labours very many, in prison more often, in stripes beyond measure, in deaths frequently.

They arc ministers of Christ, or say they are. In verse 13, he calls them ministers of Satan. It may be a foolish thing to say, but I am much more a minister of Christ than they. The proof he adduces of this statement is not, perhaps, exactly what we should have expected, for he does not refer to the cities, provinces, and kingdoms he had evangelised and converted, but the labours, blows, and imprisonment he had suffered for the cause of Christ. I have certainly undergone toil, imprisonment, blows, peril of death, to a much greater degree than they.

2 Cor 11:24. From the Jews five times I received forty less one.

Forty less one (Deut. 25:3). If he who has sinned is found worthy of beating, let them lay him down and beat him in presence of the judges. But the number of blows must be in proportion to the crime, and never exceed forty, lest thy brother go away cruelly torn before thine eyes. Forty was therefore the maximum number of stripes allowed, and the Jews never inflicted more than thirty-nine, lest they should inadvertently exceed it.. There is no record in the Acts of the Apostles of this punishment being inflicted on Saint Paul, nor is it known where it occurred.

2 Cor 11:25. Thrice I have been beaten with a rod, once I was stoned, thrice I have been shipwrecked, I have been a night and day in the deep sea.

Thrice I was beaten with a rod, by the Gentile magis-trates. It may be inferred that the Jews used a whip. Only one of these three beatings is mentioned in the Acts. It occurred at Philippi (Acts 16:22), and on this occasion the magistrates apologised when they learned that he was a Roman citizen. Saint Paul was stoned at Lystra, in Lycaonia (Acts 14:19-20), on which occasion his life seems to have been saved by miracle. Of the three shipwrecks, there is no account in the Acts; the shipwreck at Malta, described in Acts 22, occurred some years later. A night and day in the deep. The word sea is not in the Greek, and Baronius thinks it refers to a deep dungeon at Cyzicus, in Asia Minor, in which he was once immured. But he has already spoken of prisons, the word before is shipwrecked, and the Vulgate is most probably right in saying the deptth of the sea. Theodoret says it was in an unseaworthy boat, in which he was
tossed for a night and a day. The Syriac has: Thrice I have been in shipwreck, a day and night I have been in the midst of the sea without a vessel. It is clear from these verses that many circumstances have been omitted by Saint Luke in his narrative in the Acts, which gives principally those events of which the writer was himself a witness.

2 Cor 11:26. Often in journeys, in perils of rivers, in perils of robbers, in peril from my countrymen, in peril in the city, in peril in the solitude, in pf:ril on the sea, in peril among false brethren.

Theodoret: Everywhere dangers are scattered in his path. Dangers in crossing and navigating rivers, at the hands of robbers, of Jewish conspirators, of Gentile persecutors, in the city, in the desert, by land, by sea. Everywhere plots laid against his life; and this sometimes from false brethren, or pretending believers. For from the beginning the devil has sown the tares. The number of attempts against Saint Paul’s life from the Jews is very remarkable (see Acts 9:23; 13:50; 14:5; 17:5; 20:3; 21:31; 23:10-12, etc.; 25:3).

2 Cor 11:27. In labour and care, in many vigils, in hunger and thirst, in many fasts, in cold and nakedness.

In labour and care, The Greek has toil and misery. Many vigils, for prayer, preaching, labouring. Hunger and thirst for want of food and water in long journeys, in the burning heat of the summer of the south. Fasting voluntarily undertaken for religion. Cold and nakedness, from insufficient clothing in winter.

2 Cor 11:28. Besides those things that are without, my daily preoccupation, the solicitude of all the churches.

Besides these things which arc without, and affect the body, there are the cares and anxieties of the mind. The
Greek word επισυστασις means conspiring or combined assault and tumult; and Saint Chrysostom, taking it
literally, refers it to the frequent conspiracies and seditions which threatened the Apostle’s life. But he has already
spoken of this in verse 26, and from the following words, the solicitude of all the Churches, it is reasonable to suppose lie alludes to the tumult and whirl of business in which he is continually involved, and which is always distressing to a man whose delight is in communion with God. The case of all the Churches, says Erasmus, continually weighed and pressed upon him.

2 Cor 11:29. Who is weakened, and I am not weakened? Who is scandalised, and I learn not?
2 Cor 11:30. If I must glory, I will glory of what is my weakness.
2 Cor 11:31. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is blessed for ever, knows I do not lie.
2 Cor 11:32. Saint Damascus, the chief of the people of King Aretas, guarded the city of the Damascenes, to take me.
2 Cor 11:33. And through a window, in a basket, I was let down over the wall, and thus escaped his hands.

If any is weakened in faith or virtue, I am, in a degree, weakened too. Any scandal arising tortures me. I will glory, if I glory, not as my opponents do, in worldly greatness—he had very high prospects of worldly greatness once—but in the suffering and humiliation which I share with Christ. The City of Damascus, with Arabia Petroea, in the division of Syria, made by the Romans among the family of Herod, fell to Aretas, whose daughter was married to Herod Antipas, the King of Galilee. Herod dismissed her to marry Herodias, wife of his brother Philip. Aretas had placed a governor in the town of Damascus. The occurrence related by the Apostle happened in a.d. 31, six-and-twenty years before the Epistle was written. It is recorded m the Acts 9:24, 25.

Corollary of Piety

What a spectacle is exhibited to us in this brief narrative of the labours and sufferings of Saint Paul! The Legate of Jesus Christ beaten with clubs, whips, rods, as if he were a guilty and worthless slave; the herald of God’s message of salvation stoned, almost to death, as a blasphemer; the faithful servant and minister of the Almighty shipwrecked at sea, tossed on the stormy waves, as if he were a wretch whom God’s very providence had abandoned to death and destruction! A sight to cause scandal, if looked at with the eyes of the flesh. Is there knowledge on high? But edifying to the last degree, regarded with the eyes of faith. For we learn from it, not to shrink, as from real evils, from care, suffering, and humiliation, but to esteem these as precious gifts of God, which He has ready for His faithful servants. It is given you, for Christ’s sake, not to believe in Him only, but also to suffer for His sake. And we learn not to shrink from and avoid the ordinary ills of life, but to prefer and choose them, as sources of eternal glory; to rejoice in them as means and principles of true glory. Our life, for the most part, has little resemblance to that of the Apostles.
Theirs was a life of labour, ours of ease; theirs of suffering, ours of softness and indulgence; theirs of poverty, slight, contempt; ours of wealth, consideration, pride. Yet ought we to differ from those of whom we boast as the fathers of our faith? Should we not be ashamed to suffer nothing, for ourselves, of all the Apostles underwent for us? Affliction is the mother of glory. By affliction Christ and the Apostles entered into glory. It is to affliction that God predestined us, as the means of making us like the image of His Son, that He might be the eldest born of many brethren; and the Cross is the inheritance He shares with us, and which it is our privilege to partake with Him.

chapter 12

In this chapter the Apostle refers to the wonderful secret revelations which had been made to him, as a proof of his authority; and announces his intention to pay another visit to Corinth.

2 Cor 12:1. If I must boast, this indeed is not expedient, but I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.

If I must boast. Under protest, and because you require this proof of my divine commission, I will tell you that I have received this wonderful favour from heaven, although the nature of the revelation made to me is not to be communicated to mortal man. So the Vulgate and the Syriac. The Greek text differs slightly. Boasting is not good for
me; and Theodoret says that as the Greek fathers understand it, he means to say that my relation of this occurrence
is of no advantage to myself, but may be useful to you.

Visions and Revelations. Visions may be granted without revelations, when the meaning is not understood, as to
Pharao, Gen. 41:17, to Nabuchodonosor, Dan, 2:31. The revelation adds to the vision the intelligence of the meaning of what is seen. Of the Lord, not of the devil, who also is able to send visions and revelations. St. Thomas.

2 Cor 12:2. I know a man in Christ, fourteen years ago (whether in the body I know not, or out of the body I know not, God knows), such an one caught up to the third heaven.

I know a man in Christ. He suppresses his own name, out of modesty, A man in Christ. That is, a Christian.

Fourteen years ago. He had concealed all knowledge of this wonderful event for fourteen years, and would have continued to do so till the end of his life, if the Corinthians had not compelled him to refer to it. St. Thomas thinks the vision here referred to was seen at the time of Saint Paul’s conversion, during the three days when he could neither see nor eat. Act 9:9. Baronius and modern writers calculate more accurately that it must have happened about eight years after his conversion, probably at the time he went to Antioch with Barnabas, Acts 13. Baron. Ann, 44 and 58. See also Estius.

The third heaven is a Hebrew phrase for the highest heaven. We have in the Scriptures mention of three heavens; the aerial heaven, where the clouds float; the sidereal heaven, where are the planets and the stars; and the empyreal heaven, or world of the angels, into which last Saint Paul was rapt. Whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell. The words seem to imply that the Apostle’s own impression was that he had actually been taken up to heaven in the body, but was not absolutely certain. This is the opinion of Saint Chrysostom, Ambrose, Grotius, Fromond, and others. Cornelius a Lapide thinks it the more probable opinion that he was conveyed to heaven in the body, as well as in spirit; and Father George Ambianus is decidedly of that opinion, De conditione raptus. Among modern writers the more general view is that the Apostle was rapt up to heaven only intellectually and in an ecstasy, not physically or corporeally; but that the soul remained still united with the body, as St. Thomas thinks, and was not separated from it by death. As the body is said to be rapt, when violently removed from its place by an external force, so the soul is rapt when taken from the shadows and symbols on which its knowledge of external things depends, and raised to the unclouded vision and clear intelligence of the angels in heaven.

In support of the first opinion it may be observed that the verb used in the Greek is not éξéστη, visited with an ecstasy, but αρπαγεντα, which seems to suit better with the idea of a bodily transportation. And as Saint Chrysostom remarks, it was in a sense due to Saint Paul that he should receive a favour not inferior to that which was granted to the other Apostles, who conversed with Christ in the body. As Saint Peter saw his glory on Mount Thabor, so did Saint Paul in the third heaven. And as Moses conversed with God in the mountain, before he came forth to promulgate the law, so Saint Paul conversed with Christ in heaven before he went forth as the teacher of the nations. But after all, a question with regard to which the Apostle was himself uncertain, must remain uncertain for us.

2 Cor 12:3. And I know such a man (whether in the body or out of the body I know not ; God knows):
2 Cor 12:4. That he was rapt into Paradise, and heard secret words, which man may not speak.
2 Cor 12:5. On behalf of such an one I will boast; but for myself I will not boast but in my infirmities.
2 Cor 12:6. For though I were willing to boast, I shall not be a fool; but I spare, lest any one esteem me above what he sees in me, or hears from me.

Secret words, arcana verba, is in the Greek αρρητα ρηματα , unutterable utterances, things so great that man cannot explain them, and transcending all power of speech. He recurs to this in verse 6. The mention of paradise suggests to some ancient writers, and among them Ambrose, St. Anselm, and Theophylact, that this is a distinct vision from that referred to in verse 2, where he says he was rapt into heaven. But it seems more probable that whereas in the heavenly vision his intellect was enlightened by the knowledge of sublime mysteries of truth, he intends by the use of the word paradise to denote the sweetness and dehght with which his heart was filled and overflowed. Heaven denotes the perfection of knowledge, paradise the perfection of joy. He heard unutterable things, because he was instructed by another, for instruction comes by hearing. St. Thomas. This doctor, as well as St. Chrysostom, St. Anselm, and St. Augustine (xii. 28 de Gen.) consider that Saint Paul beheld the divine essence in this vision; but a contrary opinion is maintained by modern writers. But the Apostle then adds, if I were able, or if I were permitted, to tell what I saw and heard, all doubts would be removed, all cavils silenced. I should not then be a fool. I refrain, lest you should think me an angel, or a god, like the people of Lystra, Acts 14:10, or the people of Malta at a later date, Acts 28. If they offered bulls in sacrifice when he wrought a miracle, what would they not have done, had he revealed all he knew? Theophylact. The example of Saint Paul in concealing this divine favour for fourteen years, is worthy of observation and imitation. When compelled to speak of it he does so as briefly as possible, and in ambiguous and enigmatical terms, and at once proceeds to record the humiliation that followed. God’s gifts are secret. If compelled to speak, say as little as possible, and recur at once to thy own nothingness.

2 Cor 12:7. And lest the greatness of the revelations should lift me up, there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan to buffet me.
2 Cor 12:8. On account of which I thrice besought the Lord, that it might depart from me.
2 Cor 12:9. And he said to me: My grace is sufficient for thee; for virtue is perfected in infirmity.

The Apostle here changes the person, and shews that he has been speaking of himself. Should lift me up. For he also was human. Theophylact. The sting is in the Vulgate stimulus, in the Greek σκόλοψ, which, according to Grotius, signifies a thorn, according to Erasmus a sharp stake. A stimulus is properly a stake shod with iron to drive oxen when at work. This affliction Saint Paul ascribes to Satan, but nevertheless says it was given to him by the overruling
goodness of God. The verb rendered buffet, or bruise, might either infer pain or humilation, or both together. As to the nature of this infliction, there is great variety of conjecture among ecclesiastical writers. The Greek fathers.
Saint Chrysostom, Theodoret, and Theophylact, and Ambrose among the Latins, think it signifies persecution from enemies of the faith, urged on by the Devil. This is also the opinion of Erasmus. F. George Ambianus, quoted by Grotius, thinks it was an acute pain in the head or ears. Saint Thomas, that it was a painful disorder of the intestines.
Some of the authorities cited by Cornelius a Lapide consider that it was a weakness of the stomach ; others that the devils assailed him literally with blows and violence, as in the case of Saint Antony. The modern opinion now most commonly received is that it was a motion of concupiscence suggesting impure ideas to the imagination, and exciting rebellion and tumult in the flesh. In support of this latter view there is urged, 1, the metaphorical terms in which the Apostle describes it; 2, he says it was in his flesh, which hardly agrees with persecution from without; 3, it was occasioned by an angel of Satan, which would scarcely have been said of any ordinary form of disease; 4, the word colaphizat seems to imply humiliation; whereas persecution for God’s sake brings glory, and disease inflicts pain, not shame; and 5, if it had been persecution or disease, he would not so earnestly have prayed for deliverance from it. Erasmus rejects the idea altogether, as unworthy of so great a man, and one so far advanced in age. (Hammond, in loc. suggests that the affection referred to by Saint Paul was an affection of the eyes, which impaired his sight, and from which there are other grounds for believing that he suffered. He dictated all his epistles to an amanuensis, adding only a few words in his own handwriting at the end, for identification, and these written in very large characters. You see in what large letters I write in my own hand. Gal. 6:11. In support of this conjecture it may be observed that he refers to his infirmity as if it were already well known; and if it were of the kind suggested above, and known only to himself, it seems hardly likely that he would have alluded to it at all; while the urgency with which he prayed for deliverance would imply that it was something he thought likely to occasion hindrance to the exercise of his ministry).

I besought the Lord thrice. Doubtless at these different oblations of the Holy Sacrifice. But Saint Chrysostom thinks that thrice means simply often. That it, that is the angel of Satan, might leave me. The prayers of the just are often heard, when not heard; heard for their good, unheard for their wishes. God is good, and often withholds what we
want, to give what we want still more. St. Jerome. The patient under the knife will call out for mercy, but the operator does not listen. St. Augustine. Virtue is made perfect in weakness. Virtue is not here opposed to vice, but to
weakness. The Greek has my power. The power of God is shown forth most conspicuously through the infirmity of

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St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Philippians 2:1-4

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 5, 2017

But Paul does not so; he calls to our remembrance no carnal, but all of them spiritual benefits. That is, if ye wish to give me any comfort in my temptations, and encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if ye wish to show any communion in the Spirit, if ye have any tender mercies and compassions, fulfil ye my joy. “If any tender mercies and compassions.” Paul speaks of the concord of his disciples as compassion towards himself, thus showing that the danger was extreme, if they were not of one mind. If I can obtain comfort from you, if I can obtain any consolation from our love, if I can communicate with you in the Spirit, if I can have fellowship with you in the Lord, if I can find mercy and compassion at your hands, show by your love the return of all this. All this have I gained, if ye love one another.

Ver. 2. “Fulfil ye my joy.”

That the exhortation might not seem to be made to people who were still deficient, see how he says not, “do me joy,” but “fulfil my joy”; that is, Ye have begun to plant it in me, ye have already given me some portion of peacefulness, but I desire to arrive at its fulness? Say, what wouldest thou? that we deliver thee from dangers? that we supply somewhat to thy need? Not so, but “that ye be of the same mind, having the same love,” in which ye have begun, “being of one accord, of one mind.” Just see, how often he repeats the same thing by reason of his great affection! “That ye be of the same mind,” or rather, “that ye be of one mind.” For this is more than “the same.”

“Having the same love.” That is, let it not be simply about faith alone, but also in all other things; for there is such a thing as to be of the same mind, and yet not to have love. “Having the same love,” that is, love and be loved alike; do not thou enjoy much love, and show less love, so as to be covetous even in this matter; but do not suffer it in thyself. “Of one accord,” he adds, that is, appropriating with one soul, the bodies of all, not in substance, for that is impossible, but in purpose and intention. Let all things proceed as from one soul. What means “of one accord”? He shows when he says “of one mind.” Let your mind be one, as if from one soul.

Ver. 3. “Doing nothing through faction.”

He finally demands this of them, and tells1 them the way how this may be. “Doing nothing through faction or vainglory.” This, as I always say, is the cause of all evil. Hence come fightings and contentions. Hence come envyings and strifes. Hence it is that love waxes cold, when we love the praise of men, when we are slaves to the honor which is paid by the many, for it is not possible for a man to be the slave of praise, and also a true servant of God. How then shall we flee vainglory? for thou hast not yet told us the way. Listen then to what follows.

“But in lowliness of mind, each counting other better than himself.” Oh how full of true wisdom, how universal a gathering-word2 of our salvation is the lesson he has put forth! If thou deemest, he means, that another is greater than thyself, and persuadest thyself so, yea more, if thou not only sayest it, but art fully assured of it, then thou assignest him the honor, and if thou assignest him the honor, thou wilt not be displeased at seeing him honored by another. Do not then think him simply greater than thyself, but “better,” which is a very great superiority, and thou dost not think it strange nor be pained thereby, if thou seest him honored. Yea, though he treat thee with scorn, thou dost bear it nobly, for thou hast esteemed him greater than thyself. Though he revile thee, thou dost submit. Though he treat thee ill, thou bearest it in silence. For when once the soul is fully assured that he is greater, it falls not into anger when it is ill-treated by him, nor yet into envy, for no one would envy those who are very far above himself, for all things belong to his superiority.

Here then he instructs the one party to be thus minded. But when he too, who enjoys such honor from thee, is thus affected toward thee, consider what a double wall there is erected of gentle forbearance [comp. Phil. 4:5]; for when thou esteemest him thus worthy of honor, and he thee likewise, no painful thing can possibly arise; for if this conduct when shown by one is sufficient to destroy all strife, who shall break down the safeguard, when it is shown by both? Not even the Devil himself. The defense is threefold, and fourfold, yea manifold, for humanity is the cause of all good; and that you may learn this, listen to the prophet, saying, “Hadst thou desired sacrifice, I would have given it: Thou wilt not delight in burnt offerings. The sacrifice for God is a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart God will not despise.”1 (Ps. 51:16, 17.) Not simply humility, but intense humility. As in the case of bodily substances, that which is “broken” will not rise against that which is “solid,” but, how many ills soever it may suffer, will perish itself rather than attack the other, so too the soul, even if constantly suffering ill, will choose rather to die, than to avenge itself by attack.

How long shall we be puffed up thus ridiculously? For as we laugh, when we see children drawing themselves up, and looking haughty, or when we see them picking up stones and throwing them, thus too the haughtiness2 of men belongs to a puerile intellect, and an unformed mind. “Why are earth and ashes proud?” (Ecclus. 10:9.) Art thou highminded, O man? and why? tell me what is the gain? Whence art thou highminded against those of thine own kind? Dost not thou share the same nature? the same life? Hast not thou received like honor from God? But thou art wise? Thou oughtest to be thankful, not to be puffed up. Haughtiness is the first act of ingratitude, for it denies3 the gift of grace. He that is puffed up, is puffed up as if he had excelled by his own strength, and he who thinks he has thus excelled is ungrateful toward Him who bestowed that honor. Hast thou any good? Be thankful to Him who gave it. Listen to what Joseph said, and what Daniel. For when the king of Egypt sent for him, and in the presence of all his host asked him concerning that matter in which the Egyptians, who were most learned in these things, had forsaken the field, when he was on the point of carrying off everything from them, and of appearing wiser than the astrologers, the enchanters, the magicians, and all the wise men of those times, and that from captivity and servitude, and he but a youth (and his glory was thus greater, for it is not the same thing to shine when known, and contrary to expectation, so that its being unlooked for rendered him the more admirable); what then, when he came before Pharaoh? Was it “Yea, I know”? But what? When no one urged it on him, he said from his own excellent spirit, “Do not interpretations belong to God?”4 Behold he straightway glorified his Master, therefore he was glorified. And this also is no small thing. For that God had revealed it to him was a far greater thing than if he had himself excelled. For he showed that his words were worthy of credit, and it was a very great proof of his intimacy with God. There is no one thing so good as to be the intimate friend of God. “For if,” says the Scripture, “he [Abraham] was justified by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not toward God.” (Rom. 4:2.) For if he who has been vouchsafed grace maketh his boast in God, that he is loved of Him, because his sins are forgiven, he too that worketh hath whereof to boast, but not before God, as the other (for it5 is a proof of our excessive weakness); he who has received wisdom of God, how much more admirable is he? He glorifies God and is glorified of Him, for He says, “Them that honor Me, I will honor.” (1 Sam. 2:30.)

Again, listen to him who descended from Joseph, than whom no one was wiser. “Art thou wiser,”6 says he, “than Daniel?” (Ezek. 28:3.) This Daniel then, when all the wise men that were in Babylon, and the astrologers moreover, the prophets, the magicians, the enchanters, yea when the whole of their wisdom was not only coming to be convicted, but to be wholly destroyed (for their being destroyed was a clear proof that they had deceived before), this Daniel coming forward, and preparing to solve the king’s question, does not take the honor to himself, but first ascribes the whole to God, and says, “But as for me, O king, it is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have beyond all men.” (Dan. 2:30.) And “the king worshiped him, and commanded that they should offer an oblation.” (Dan. 2:46.) Seest thou his humility? seest thou his excellent spirit? seest thou this habit of lowliness? Listen also to the Apostles, saying at one time, “Why fasten ye your eyes on us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man to walk? (Acts 3:12.) And again, “We are men of like passions with you.” (Acts 14:15.) Now if they thus refused the honors paid them, men who by reason of the humility and power of Christ wrought greater deeds than Christ (for He says, “He that believeth in Me shall do greater works than those that I do” (John 14:12, abr.)), shall not we wretched and miserable men do so, who cannot even beat away gnats,1 much less devils? who have not power to benefit a single man, much less the whole world, and yet think so much of ourselves that the Devil himself is not like us?

There is nothing so foreign to a Christian soul as haughtiness. Haughtiness, I say, not boldness nor courage, for these are congenial. But these are one thing, and that another; so too humility is one thing, and meanness, flattery, and adulation another.

I will now, if you wish, give you examples of all these qualities. For these things which are contraries, seem in some way to be placed near together, as the tares to the wheat, and the thorns to the rose. But while babes might easily be deceived, they who are men in truth, and are skilled in spiritual husbandry, know how to separate what is really good from the bad. Let me then lay before you examples of these qualities from the Scriptures. What is flattery, and meanness, and adulation? Ziba flattered2 David out of season, and falsely slandered his master. (2 Sam. 16:1–3.) Much more did Ahitophel flatter Absalom. (2 Sam. 17:1–4.) But David was not so, but he was humble. For the deceitful are flatterers, as when they say, “O king, live for ever.” (Dan. 2:4.) Again, what flatterers the magicians are.

We shall find much to exemplify this in the case of Paul in the Acts. When he disputed with the Jews he did not flatter them, but was humble-minded (for he knew how to speak boldly), as when he says, “I, brethren, though I had done nothing against the people, or the customs of our fathers, yet was delivered prisoner from Jerusalem.” (Acts 28:17.)

That these were the words of humility, listen how he rebukes them in what follows, “Well spake the Holy Ghost, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall in nowise understand, and seeing ye shall see, and in nowise perceive.” (Acts 28:25; ib. 26.)

Seest thou his courage? Behold also the courage of John the Baptist, which he used before Herod; when he said, “It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother Philip’s wife.” (Mark 6:18) This was boldness, this was courage. Not so the words of Shimei, when he said, “Begone, thou man of blood” (2 Sam. 16:7), and yet he too spake with boldness; but this is not courage, but audacity, and insolence, and an unbridled tongue. Jezebel too reproached Jehu, when she said, “The slayer of his master” (2 Kings 9:31), but this was audacity, not boldness. Elias too reproached, but this was boldness and courage; “I do not trouble Israel, but thou and thy father’s house.” (1 Kings 18:18.) Again, Elias spake with boldness to the whole people, saying, “How long will ye go lame on both your thighs?” (1 Kings 18:21, LXX.) Thus to rebuke was boldness and courage. This too the prophets did, but that other was audacity.

Would you see words both of humility and not of flattery,3 listen to Paul, saying, “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment; yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing against myself, yet am I not hereby justified.” (1 Cor. 4:3, 4.) This is of a spirit that becomes a Christian; and again, “Dare any of you, having a matter against his neighbor, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints”? (1 Cor. 6:1.)

Would you see the flattery of the foolish Jews? listen to them, saying, “We have no king but Cæsar.” (John 19:15.) Would you see humility? listen to Paul again, when he says, “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” (2 Cor. 4:5.) Would you see both flattery and audacity? “Audacity” (1 Sam. 25:10) in the case of Nabal, and “flattery” (1 Sam. 23:20.) in that of the Ziphites? For in their purpose they betrayed David. Would you see “wisdom” (1 Sam. 26:5–12) and not flattery, that of David, how he got Saul into his power, and yet spared him? Would you see the flattery of those who murdered Mephibosheth,1 whom also David slew? In fine, and as it were in outline, to sum up all, audacity is shown when one is enraged, and insults another for no just cause, either to avenge himself, or in some unjust way is audacious; but boldness and courage are when we dare to face perils and deaths, and despise friendships and enmities for the sake of what is pleasing to God. Again, flattery and meanness are when one courts another not for any right end, but hunting after some of the things of this life; but humility, when one does this for the sake of things pleasing to God, and descends from his own proper station that he may perform something great and admirable. If we know these things, happy are we if we do them. For to know them is not enough. For Scripture says, “Not the hearers of a law, but the doers of a law shall be justified.” (Rom. 2:13.) Yea, knowledge itself condemneth, when it is without action and deeds of virtue. Wherefore that we may escape the condemnation, let us follow after the practice, that we may obtain those good things that are promised to us, by the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Philippians 2:1-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 5, 2017

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief analysis of Philippians chapter 2, followed by his commentary on verses 1-11. Text in purple indicates his paraphrasing of the text he is commenting on.

In this chapter, the Apostle fervently exhorts the Philippians to the exercise of mutual concord, fraternal charity, and humility, both interior and exterior (1–4). And in order to urge them the more to practise both humility and charity, he proposes the example of Christ, who, although he was God, possessing the divine essence, still, for love of us, took upon himself the form of a slave; nay, humbled himself to the death of the cross; in reward of which humiliation, God exalted him in this assumed nature above all other creatures (4–11). He exhorts them to work out their salvation with fear and trembling, and by the splendour of their virtues, to shine forth, as brilliant luminaries, in the midst of Pagan darkness and infidelity. Should the effusion of his blood be necessary to complete the sacrifice of their sanctification, which he began in their conversion, he is ready and willing to pour forth his blood, as a libation, on their sacrifice (12–18). He promises to send them Timothy and Epaphroditus, with whose praises and commendation the remainder of the chapter is almost taken up (19–30).

Php 2:1  If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of charity, if any society of the spirit, if any bowels of commiseration:

If, then, you wish to afford me, a prisoner for the faith, any spiritual consolation becoming a Christian; any solace dictated by charity; if you have any union of soul with me; any feeling of sincere, heartfelt compassion (as I am firmly persuaded you have):

“If,” far from expressing doubt, is here strongly affirmative. It is a form of obtestation not unusual with the most eminent classical writers, and means: if you wish to afford me any consolation, &c. (as I know you do). The words within the parenthesis affect each member of the sentence. The meaning of the entire verse comes to this: in the name of the duties of charity, which religion prescribes, and which I know you faithfully to discharge.

“If any society of the spirit.” In Greek, any communion of spirit, “any bowels of commiseration.” i.e., any tender feelings of interior and heartfelt compassion. “Any bowels of commiseration.” In Greek, any bowels and commiseration.

Php 2:2  Fulfil ye my joy, that you be of one mind, having the same charity, being of one accord, agreeing in sentiment.

I entreat you to complete the joy which your conversion and charitable contributions have afforded me, by agreeing in the same doctrine and feelings, by entertaining mutual charity for one another, by being of one mind and soul, having the same wishes and sentiments.

“Fulfil ye my joy,” &c. In the name of all the foregoing duties which you owe me, I entreat of you to complete my joy, by being “of one mind,” i.e., by holding the same faith, and entertaining the same feelings and wishes. This is more clearly expressed in the following—“agreeing in sentiment.” This member of the sentence differs from the first, “be of one mind,” in this respect only, that it is a stronger expression of concord and harmony, as appears from the Greek, το ἒν φρονουντες.

Php 2:3  Let nothing be done through contention: neither by vain glory. But in humility, let each esteem others better than themselves:

Do nothing from a spirit of contradiction, or of ambitious affectation of superiority; but through the spirit of humility, let each one esteem his neighbour better than himself.

“Let each esteem others better than themselves.” How can men do this, in all cases, consistently with truth? According to some, in this way; because no matter how grievous the crime of our neighbour, although you may be conscious to yourself of nothing, there may be still some unknown spiritual sin, which may render you more disagreeable in God’s sight than he is, and may be the source of your damnation. Again, we may say with truth, that if our neighbour, no matter how great a sinner, received the graces conferred on us, he might be better than we; and if we were in his circumstances, with only the same graces he had, we might have done worse. Again, St. Thomas and others say, we can regard our neighbour as better than ourselves, by looking to ourselves, without regarding the graces and gifts we have from God, and looking only to the gifts of others, in which sense, he explains the following verse. At all events, what is here inculcated is a practical exhibition of humility, by honouring all as our betters, which may be done in the exercise of true humility, although, in point of fact, we might chance to be better than they.

Php 2:4  Each one not considering the things that are his own, but those that are other men’s.

Let no one selfishly seek his own advantages merely; but let him rather consult for the interests of others.

According to the exposition in the Paraphrase, the Apostle censures that spirit of selfishness, which is the greatest obstacle to fraternal charity, and the source of dissensions. Others interpret the verse, thus—not looking to the gifts we have, but to those which others have, which is a great means of exercising true humility. Commentators here remark that St. Paul prescribes its proper remedy for each of the four causes of dissension. To an excessive desire of maintaining our own opinion, he opposes, submission of our own judgment, “agreeing in sentiment;” secondly, to vain glory—contempt for glory; to the third cause—a desire of domineering—humility of heart, “but in humility,” &c.; to the fourth source of discord, undue selfishness—a disregard for self interests, “but those that are of other men.”

Php 2:5  For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Let the same feeling be cherished by you for one another that was entertained by Christ Jesus:

In order to excite them to the exercise of the last-mentioned dispositions of humility and disinterestedness, he adduces the example of Christ. Pride being the greatest obstacle to fraternal charity; he, therefore, inculcates humility, as the most efficacious means of promoting and preserving it.

Php 2:6  Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

Who, pre-existing in the form of God, possessing the divine nature, and essence, and attributes, did not still tenaciously retain this equality with God, as is done by those who unexpectedly obtain some booty or emolument.

Who being in form of God, i.e., having the real essence and nature of God”. The Greek word for “form,” μορφῆ, has been interpreted by the Holy Fathers to denote, the Divine Nature, the perfect equality of the Son with the Father, the Divine Majesty, the image of God the Father. “Thought is not robbery to be equal to God.” The interpretation of these words, found in the commentary of Theodore Beelen, seems the most probable, the only one which accords best with the context. According to him, the words convey a proverbial meaning, and have reference to those who tenaciously keep and grasp whatever emolument or prize they may unexpectedly fall in with. So, the words here mean, in regard to Christ, that he did not with eager tenacity retain the external form and equality with God the Father, which he possessed; but, by taking on himself human nature and the appearance of man, veiled his Divine glory and Majesty; thus humbling himself, which is a powerful motive for humiliation on our part. The Greek word “for robbery,” ἁρπαγμον, favours this interpretation. It means, not the act of rapine, but the thing itself eagerly seized on, and tenaciously retained. Nouns ending in, μος, sometimes bear this meaning. Independently of the context, inculcating humility, the antithesis “but debased himself,” shows this to be the true interpretation.

Php 2:7  But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man.

But, far from this; by taking upon him the form of a slave, he voluntary debased himself, having become like a man, by becoming really and in nature such, and in external appearance and habits of life found as a man.

Christ debased himself, because, without undergoing any change whatever in his nature or attributes, which are immutable and essential, he put on externally human nature, which was to the eyes of men an annihilation of himself. The phrase, “and in habit found as a man,” by no means implies that he was not really a man; because, “as,” as it were, and other adverbs of similitude, are found to express reality, “as it were, of the only begotten of the Father.”—(Gospel St. John, 1:14). Christ was like a man. Who can be so like a man, as another man? “In habit,” in his external actions and manner of life he “was found” to act and live like other men. The example of Christ not greedily grasping and retaining his equality with God, which he had before the world began, but rather externally divesting himself of it, is a powerful motive for us to exercise humility. Hence, this interpretation accords best with the context.

Php 2:8  He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.

Nay, he humbled himself still more, having become obedient unto death—and that a death of no ordinary kind—but the ignominious death of the cross, the instrument of torture for malefactors and slaves.

What a prodigy of humility! A God, eternal and omnipotent, expiring on an ignominious gibbet! What intense charity, prodigious disinterestedness—the Creator submitting to death for the sake of the creature! From this example of Christ, concealing his divinity, a lesson of humility is inculcated not to glory in the gifts of nature, grace or fortune, the ordinary incentives to pride.

Php 2:9  For which cause, God also hath exalted him and hath given him a name which is above all names:

In reward for this humiliation God exalted him by raising him from the dead, and placing him at his right hand above all creatures, and gave him a name, which is above all names.

“Exalted.” In Greek, superexalted. The Apostle refers to this as an incentive to stimulate the Philippians to acts of humiliation in hopes of like exaltation with Christ. “And gave him a name.” By “name,” is understood the name of “God,” or “Son of God,” as made known after his Resurrection and Ascension, under which name and character God made his Son to be adored and acknowledged by all nations. This name is said to be given him after his death and humiliation; because, then it was that it was publicly made known regarding him. Others understood it of the fame of his Divinity, which comes to the same with the former interpretation. Others, again, understood it of the Adorable Name of Jesus, which although given from his conception, was still given in consideration of the future redemption effected by his passion and death.

Php 2:10  That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth:

So that the person expressed by the name of Jesus being recognised throughout creation as the Son of God, should receive the homage and adoration of creatures, whether in heaven, on earth, or under the earth, in hell, or purgatory.

“In the name of Jesus.” “Name,” is used for the person expressed by it. The words, “every knee would bend,” express adoration of the divine Person of Jesus. “And under the earth,” whether in purgatory or hell; the damned adoring him from co-action, and the others, voluntarily. The word “Jesus” is taken not for the sound expressed, but for the person whom it designates. The usage of the Church, as appears from the words of Gregory the Great, has sanctioned a relative worship to be paid to the very name of Jesus, ad nomen Jesu omnes flectent genua cordis sui, quod vel capitis inclinatione testentur. The Council of Lyons, as Navarre relates, commanded all to bow the head at the name of Jesus, and Catharinus cites a decree of a Roman Pontiff to the same effect. As to the etymology of the word “Jesus;” it is derived from the Hebrew root, jascha, i.e., he has saved. Hence the word Jeschua, Latin, “Jesus,” i.e., Saviour. It is the proper name of the Word Incarnate, and is said by many to be superior to the name of God, as superadding the idea of ransom and redemption, in which that of Creator is implied; whereas, the name of God conveys the idea of Creator alone, without that of Saviour.

Php 2:11  And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father. 

And every tongue, whether in heaven, on earth, or under the earth, should confess, that the Lord Jesus Christ possesses glory equal to that of God the Father.

“And every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus,” &c., which some interpret thus, and every tongue should confess that our Lord Jesus Christ is unto the glory, &c., i.e., that Jesus Christ is supreme Lord unto the glory of God the Father; because, the exaltation of the Son confers glory on the Father. This interpretation is conformable to the Greek. St. Bernard found no pleasure in any writings that were not seasoned with this sweet name of Jesus. How often do we not hear this sacred name blasphemously invoked in the most shocking imprecations, without feeling the slightest emotion!

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